Drones have a number of commercial applications from aerial photography to assisting the emergency services – and, potentially in the near future, parcel delivery. Yet the recent incidents at Gatwick and Heathrow have brought into focus the question of how to regulate the use of these remote-controlled aircraft.

The use of drones and other unmanned aircraft is regulated by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). To use a drone for commercial purposes, a number of rules – set out in the Air Navigation Order 2016 – apply. Most notably, the person operating the drone must have a permission from the CAA and must not fly above 400ft or within 1km of an airport.

While a CAA permission entitles a drone to be operated in a built-up area, it does not automatically make the drone flight lawful. Local authority permission may also be required and data protection law will also need to be considered. Moreover, it is unclear how traditional legal principles such as trespass and nuisance will be applied to drone use.

Ed Cracknell appears in Property Week discussing drones following the recent incidents at Gatwick and Heathrow. 

What could changes in drone regulation mean for the industry? is available to read in the Property Week website.

Ed is a senior associate in the property and housing litigation team. He specialises in all aspects of property litigation and property dispute resolution. His areas of expertise include landlord and tenant disputes, business lease renewals, rent and service charge recovery, possession proceedings, and dilapidations claims.